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There are 43 critical essays on R. K. Narayan.

Critical Essays on R. K. Narayan
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Critical Essay by Bhagwat S. Goyal
6,101 words, approx. 20 pages
Goyal was a book reviewer for the Hindustan Times and has published several books analyzing literature. In the following essay, he traces the metamorphosis of the main character, Raja, in Narayan's The Guide.
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Critical Essay by Teresa Hubel
6,055 words, approx. 20 pages
In the following essay, Hubel explores the changing role of the devadasis caste in India by tracing Narayan's portrayal of them through the character of Rangi.
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Critical Essay by Michel Pousse
5,188 words, approx. 17 pages
In the following essay, Pousse delineates how Narayan "separated the obviously ephemeral implications of [Gandhi's philosophy from what was eternal in it and he gave literary existence to the latter."]
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Critical Essay by M. K. Naik
4,897 words, approx. 16 pages
In this essay, Naik criticizes the lack of tragic irony and imagination in Narayan's short stories, but finds that his tight form and structure result in a well-constructed story.
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Critical Essay by H. G. Trivedi and N. C. Soni
4,804 words, approx. 16 pages
In the following essay, the authors review Narayan's short stories, first by collection, then by character type.
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Critical Essay by Perry D. Westbrook
4,800 words, approx. 16 pages
In this seminal essay, Westbrook focuses on the human quality of the short stories in Narayan 's first two published collections.
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Critical Essay by G. S. Amur
4,084 words, approx. 14 pages
In the following essay, Amur traces Narayan's use of the symbols of the lotus pond, the garden, and the ruined temple in The English Teacher, The Financial Expert, and The Vendor of Sweets.
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Critical Essay by R. K. Jeurkar
3,921 words, approx. 13 pages
In this essay, Jeurkar explores the three narrator-types found in Narayan's fiction: the "Talkative Man," the third-person narrator, and the omniscient narrator.
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Critical Essay by Atma Ram
3,919 words, approx. 13 pages
This essay examines the general characteristics of Narayan's fiction, including his realistic rendering of day-today life, the importance of family relationships, and the role of the caste system in Indian society.
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Critical Essay by Prajapati P. Sah
3,745 words, approx. 13 pages
In the following essay, Sah asserts that the central theme of Gateman's Gift is Govind Singh's role as a socio-economic animal.
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Critical Essay by S. C. Harrex
3,719 words, approx. 12 pages
In the following essay, Harrex analyzes Narayan's use of comedy in The Printer of Malgudi.
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Critical Essay by V. Panduranga Rao
3,632 words, approx. 12 pages
In this essay, Rao describes Narayan as somewhat of an anomaly in Indian literature: an author at peace with himself, his society and his God. He further argues that this inner peace gives Narayan the ability to create sympathetic, believeable characters.
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Critical Essay by Sita Kapadia
3,459 words, approx. 12 pages
In this essay, Kapadia examines the sources and qualities of Narayan's literary voice.
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Critical Essay by Tone Sundt Urstad
3,354 words, approx. 11 pages
In the following essay, Urstad describes Narayan's literary technique of juxtaposing modern life with elements of myth. Urstad sees "Naga" as representative of this technique and analyses its effectiveness in short fiction.
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Critical Essay by Tone Sundt Urstad
3,330 words, approx. 11 pages
In the following essay, Urstad discusses Narayan's juxtaposition of modern life and Hindu mythology in the short story "Naga."
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Critical Essay by C. N. Srinath
3,148 words, approx. 11 pages
In the following essay, Srinath asserts the importance of the fictional Malgudi in Narayan's fiction.
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Critical Essay by William Walsh
2,818 words, approx. 9 pages
It is odd at a time when we are beginning to pay attention to Commonwealth writers that a writer of the character and maturity of R. K. Narayan should hardly have been noticed at all. It is true that some of the more obvious motives directing us to these writers probably do not operate in respect of Narayan. His themes are not particularly contemporary, fashionable or provocative…. Nor does his language work with the peasant vigour which we are apt to find so attractive in the West Indians, our curre...
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Critical Essay by Avadhesh K. Srivastava and Sumita Sinha
2,687 words, approx. 9 pages
In this essay, the authors describe Narayan's purely artistic approach to his writing, and compare his style to that of other Indian authors writing in English.
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Critical Essay by Harsharan S. Ahluwalia
2,225 words, approx. 7 pages
In the following essay, Ahluwalia discusses how Narayan's awareness of his audience influences his writing.
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Critical Review by Hilary Mantel
1,797 words, approx. 6 pages
In the following excerpt, Mantel discusses the inhabitants of Narayan's The Grandmother's Tale and Selected Stories and how the author presents them with humor.
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Critical Essay by Harish Raizada
1,636 words, approx. 6 pages
While summing up R. K. Narayan's characteristics as an author, the first thing that strikes us most is the dispassionate manner in which he judges the Indian life of his own times. Like other great artists he also possesses artistic impersonality and serene abstraction from life. He loves humanity but does not take sides. In his novels we have no didacticism, no philosophy, no propaganda. He is an artist pure and simple and interprets Indian life aesthetically with unprejudiced objectivity. It is bec...
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Critical Review by Hilary Mantel
1,619 words, approx. 5 pages
This review of The Grandmother's Tale discusses Narayan's delicate treatment of his characters.
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Critical Review by Shashi Tharoor
1,549 words, approx. 5 pages
In this review of The Grandmother's Tale, Tharoor claims that the simple and straightforward style that gives Narayan's stories their charm also weakens the overall effect due to inadequacies of language.
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Critical Review by Shashi Tharoor
1,548 words, approx. 5 pages
Tharoor is the author of The Great Indian Novel and Show Business. In the following review, he praises the stories in Narayan's The Grandmother's Tale as "interesting and often pleasurable," but complains of the banality of the author's prose.
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Interview by R. K. Narayan with Stephen R. Graubard
1,511 words, approx. 5 pages
In the following interview, Narayan discusses Indian writers, India, and criticism of his work.
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Critical Review by Anita Desai
1,357 words, approx. 5 pages
Desai is the author of such books as Clear Light of Day. In the following review, she presents an overview of the setting and characters found in Narayan's Malgudi Days.
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Critical Review by Stanley Kauffmann
1,282 words, approx. 4 pages
In this review of Gods, Demons, and Others, Kauffmann discusses the characteristics of the mythological tales that form the basis of the stories in this collection.
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Critical Essay by George Woodcock
1,208 words, approx. 4 pages
[As] a South Indian [R. K. Narayan] knew he must come to terms with the power which in his novels he shows shaping Malgudi physically, giving it the plan of streets created by the mythical Sir Frederick Lawley, the schools and colleges, the municipal government, the railways and mills and printing presses, the whole structure of a western city superimposed on a native life that, with its temples and household shrines and vegetarian Brahmin food and astrologers and untouchables and arranged marriages, had re...
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Critical Essay by M. M. Mahood
1,140 words, approx. 4 pages
'It's the original violence which has started a cycle—violence which goes on in undying waves once started, either in retaliation or as an original starting-ground—the despair of Gandhi—.' These reflections which arise in the course of a small difference between husband and wife in one of R. K. Narayan's novels seem to belong to the world of the Marabar Caves rather than to the placid world of Malgudi. But then this South Indian novelist has been too easily s...
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Critical Review by Judith Freeman
1,105 words, approx. 4 pages
This review of The Grandmother's Tale highlights the subtlety, elegance, gentleness, and profundity of Narayan's work.
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Critical Essay by V. S. Naipaul
997 words, approx. 3 pages
"India will go on." This was what the Indian novelist R. K. Narayan said to me in London in 1961, before I had ever been to India. (p. 10) [Narayan's] conviction in 1961, after fourteen years of independence, that India would go on, whatever the political uncertainties after Mr. Nehru, was like the conviction of his earliest novels, written in the days of the British, that India was going on. In the early novels the British conquest is like a fact of life. The British themselves are far...
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Critical Essay by Perry D. Westbrook
995 words, approx. 3 pages
The first of R. K. Narayan's three volumes of short stories, An Astrologer's Day and Other Stories (1947), contains thirty pieces, all of which had previously appeared in the Madras Hindu. Thus they had been written for, and presumably read and enjoyed by, the readership of one of India's greatest English-language newspapers. Though this readership would include most of the British, Anglo-Indians, and Americans living in South India, it would be made up overwhelmingly of true Indians. I...
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Critical Review by Santha Rama Rau
931 words, approx. 3 pages
Rama Rau is the author of Remember the House and other books about her native India. In the following review, she asserts that Narayan is like a revered village storyteller in his presentation of stories from Indian mythology in Gods, Demons, and Others.
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Critical Essay by Lakshmi Holmstrom
854 words, approx. 3 pages
Narayan is a comic novelist. His attitude to comedy grows out of a whole view of man's condition in the universe, and therefore the criticism of society and the observation of the social predicament implicit in his work is only incidental. For Narayan, society is not man-made by choices but existing as part of a universal order with which it is continuous. Thus to appreciate his work, one must understand his view of man's life in a universal order which is cyclical, of man's relation to...
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Critical Review by Laurence Lafore
732 words, approx. 2 pages
Below, Lafore argues that the unifying theme of Narayan's stories is the failure of people to communicate with one another.
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Critical Essay by Peter Green
693 words, approx. 2 pages
Rasipuran Krishnaswami Narayan embodies in his career and writing all the necessary ambiguities of an Indian novelist who came to maturity under the British Raj…. A master of Chekhovian irony, he also moves in a world where marriage horoscopes are crucial, neighborhood temples blossom with exotic theriomorphic deities, reincarnations are taken for granted, priests bless movie cameras, and a great-grandfather's caste can make or break your social pretensions. I used to find it paradoxical that ...
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Critical Review by Neil Millar
684 words, approx. 2 pages
In the following review, Millar discusses the character studies in the stories of Narayan's A Horse and Two Goats.
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Critical Review by Donald Barr
607 words, approx. 2 pages
In the following review, Barr lauds Narayan's The Printer of Malgudi for its comedy and subtlety.
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Critical Review by Anne Fremantle
570 words, approx. 2 pages
In the following review, Fremantle calls Narayan's Grateful to Life and Death "a tour de force, as perfect as it is pure."
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Critical Essay by John Updike
533 words, approx. 2 pages
The autobiography of a writer of fiction is generally superfluous, since he has already, in rearrangement and disguise, written out the material of his life many times. A novel like "The Man-Eater of Malgudi," though its hero, Nataraj, and its author, Narayan, are not to be confused, tells us more about the India that R. K. Narayan inhabits, and more explicitly animates his opinion of what he sees, than his recent brief memoir. "My Days."… Not that Mr. Narayan's mis...
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Critical Essay by Laurence Lafore
418 words, approx. 1 pages
[The stories in R. K. Narayan's "A Horse and Two Goats"] are all very specifically Indian, richly adorned with picturesque native customs and vivid local color, so that the casual reader with a limited appetite for folklore might well form the misleading impression that this is all they are. He might also be misled by their brevity and simplicity into supposing that they belong in the category of Theophrastian vignettes. They are, in fact, something quite different. Picturesque they may...
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Critical Essay by V. S. Naipaul
316 words, approx. 1 pages
The virtues of R. K. Narayan are Indian failings magically transmuted. I say this without disrespect: he is a writer whose work I admire and enjoy. He seems forever headed for that aimlessness of Indian fiction—which comes from a profound doubt about the purpose and value of fiction—but he is forever rescued by his honesty, his sense of humour and above all by his attitude of total acceptance. He operates from deep within his society. Some years ago he told me in London that, whatever happened...
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Critical Essay by Joyce Carol Oates
192 words, approx. 1 pages
R. K. Narayan is considered one of the finest of contemporary Indian writers. He is the author of The Guide and The Vendor of Sweets, novels about a mythical town called Malgudi in South India, and of a number of short stories. A Horse and Two Goats is made up of sketches or vignettes rather than stories; the dominant tone of the writing is casual, unthreatening, unsurprising…. The most interesting of the stories, "A Breath of Lucifer," which is apparently based upon a personal experien...


Works by the Author

There are 7 critical essays on literary works by R. K. Narayan.

The Guide

The Man-Eater of Malgudi

Malgudi days



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